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He’s still moving! We must too!

The last few weeks have been so busy. I have not had time to write as often as I like due to other commitments and responsibilities. Today I am happy to be able to settle in for a few minutes and share some of the things I see God doing in my small circle of life. We serve an awesome God, who not only hears the prayers of His saints but answers them in some pretty awesome ways! Not always in the way we expect, in fact very seldom in the way we expect but in much better ways.

I belong to a smaller country church that through prayer has been growing substantially. Numbers don’t mean much but the growth we are experiencing is also in a body hungering for more of God. Our bible study groups have grown, our worship teams are continually growing and the praise is most times out of this world! Our Pastor is preaching with power and anointing and the congregation is being fed. It is all as a result of the fervent prayer of the saints! We hear of churches having a hard time keeping their doors open, yet ours is growing in all the right areas.  I am so thankful to God for hearing our prayers and answering in the most wonderful ways.

I am also very privileged so see one of our son’s join the ministry. The changes God has done in his heart and life are nothing short of remarkable! As parents, when we see the lives of our children flourish in Christ it has got to be one of the most wonderful blessings we can have. God is awesome!

Also, our church has been joining  together over the last six months or so with a number of other churches for an evening gathering  of worship and prayer. This has been very exciting. To see multiple congregations gather for the sole purpose of worshiping and praying together is a beautiful example of the unity Christ offers the church! No barriers, just one family gathering together.

Despite the fact we are witnessing a wave rising against the body of Christ around the world right now we are called to continue in the work He has called each of us to do. Abide in Christ, pray, seek, study, grow and most of all love on those He puts in our path.  We are to continue working for our King and His Kingdom until He takes us up or calls us home!

His work continues. His Kingdom is growing. His church is being refined. Don’t allow any type of sin or discouragement distract you from moving forward! Instead get plugged in to a church body that is preaching the Word, moving in the Spirit and ministering to the body needs. Time is short. Don’t waste it on things that really don’t matter. Be ready for His return!

I will finish with some words of wisdom from Apostle Paul;

Ephesians 5:1-21 NKJV Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them.For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), 10 finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret.13 But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. 14 Therefore He says:  “Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”15 See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, 20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,21 submitting to one another in the fear of God.

 

Hold to, spur on, meet and encourage!

Last week my husband and I spent a week vacationing in the Dominican Republic. It was a great rest for both of us. We were fortunate enough to meet some new friends who are currently missionaries there. One is a fellow blogger.  It was such a blessing to meet people who are helping people in the most practical ways, right where the rubber meets the road. People who are not afraid to get their hands dirty when reaching down to help others in some pretty dark places. It encouraged me to do more.

Meeting with fellow believers should do just that. If we are fulfilling the plan God has for our lives it should encourage others to do the same.  We need each other. We all have times of discouragement and difficulty but God has provided us with a very large family! A family we can turn to for support, encouragement and love. A family of likeminded people who can keep us grounded in the Word of God and keep us in check should we begin to wander into the wider path.

Though our relationship with Christ must be personal, He has given us a large family for support, correction, love and to labor alongside of. The Word of God tells us just how important it is that we maintain relationship with our spiritual family.

Hebrews 10:23-25 NIV 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

When we look around us today we can be assured that the Day of Christ’s return is not that far off. It is so important that as the days grow more evil, we spur one another on toward love and good deeds. There will be times we will feel discouraged with what we see happening but that is not the time to stop sharing the gospel, doing good deeds or being the hands and feet of Christ. It will be the time to spur one another on!  We must not give up meeting together. As the Lord’s return draws closer we must stop making excuses of why we cannot get to church, or bible study or any other gathering of the body of Christ. There is nothing more important than growing in our faith and doing His works! We need one another’s support and wisdom.  And lastly, we must encourage one another all the more as time passes. God has created each of us with a need for others. He did not create us to be an island of our own. We need to be available and supportive to our brothers and sisters in Christ for prayer, sharing of the Word and fellowship.

Lord I pray today that You will reveal to us how important it is that we hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, our hope in the return of our beautiful Savior! Open our eyes to see how important it is that we spur on one another in good deeds! Help us to realize the importance of meeting regularly with our church families! Help us to encourage one another as You would encourage us Lord.  Let us not be found sleeping when You return, but let us be found busy doing Your works inside the church and outside the church.

In the precious name of Jesus we pray, Amen.

 

Thank YOU for the cross!

 

2Corinthians 5:21NKJV  21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

2Corinthians 5:21 NKJV
21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

With Easter approaching, it is a good time to reflect on just what Christ did for each of us when He died on the cross. As we think on what He achieved through His painful death on the cross let’s approach this Easter with a thankful heart! Without His enduring the scourgings, false accusations, and crucifixion there would be no way for us to enter into fellowship with the Father. He provided THE WAY. If He at any point in His suffering lashed back and refused to endure, we would still be living a life without hope, without true joy and without the assurance of our salvation. For many of us who are gentiles, we would be outside the family of God with no way in. Thankfully, He did endure the cross and when He did, He willingly took upon Himself my sin and yours! Praise God!

Let’s take a fresh look at what the cross accomplished when we reflect on just a few verses today…

1John 2:2 NKJV And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.   (The definition of propitiation taken from Theopedia is “The turning away of wrath by an offering. In relation to soteriology, propitiation means placating or satisfying the wrath of God by the atoning sacrifice of Christ.” 

Romans 5:10 NKJV 10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.

1 Corinthians 15:3-5  NKJV For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve.

1 Peter 1:17-19 NKJV 17 And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; 18 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.

And finally, one of my favorite verses…

2 Corinthians 5:21 NKJV 21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.   It blesses me so much to know that He willing became sin for me, though it was painful and temporarily caused separation from the Father, and not only did that but  replaced my sin with righteousness in HIM!  That is powerful! That is amazing! That is ultimate love!

As you spend this Easter perhaps with loved ones and friends, don’t forget to spend time with your Redeemer! He has made it possible for you and I to enjoy eternal life and a joyful life here on earth regardless of our circumstances. Take the time to thank Him for what He has done for you!

 

 

YOU and I are His disciples!

John 15:16 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.

John 15:16 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.

There is so much going on in our world right now that could cause us to be distracted from the calling on our lives. We have sports, entertainment, family responsibilities and gatherings, jobs, electronics etc.. It is easy to become waylaid from the purposes God has called us to accomplish.  Each day it is a choice as to whether we will fulfill His purposes for our lives  or we will fulfill our own goals and purposes.  Do we spend more time in front of the tv than in the Word of God? Do we waste time gossiping instead of interceding for others? Do we choose to stay home and relax instead of getting ourselves to church on Sunday? We are daily faced with these type of decisions and sadly many Christians are choosing the way of their own comfort.

We have been given the gift of salvation through a Savior that lovingly died for us yet often we can’t even bring ourselves to spend any time with Him in prayer or in the Word of God. Too often, we would entertain ourselves with things that have little to no lasting spiritual significance. When we made the decision to follow Christ, we became His disciples. As disciples we have a purpose that involves more than our own comfort.

The online Merriam-Webster dictionary gives the following definition of a disciple..

dis·ci·ple

noun \di-ˈsī-pəl\

: someone who accepts and helps to spread the teachings of a famous person

: one of a group of 12 men who were sent out to spread the teachings of Jesus Christ

A disciple has a very distinct purpose and that purpose is to accept and help spread the teachings of their leader, who as Christians, is Christ.  This is not the purpose of just a select few but is the purpose for each and every one of us who calls Christ our Lord and Savior.  Each of us will have a different group of individuals that we are to impact but we are all His disciples and therefore we are all called to share the gospel.  When we choose our own comfort over sharing the gospel we are not being true followers of Christ.  Let’s take a look at a few verses from the Bible on being disciples…

Matthew 28:19-20 NIV 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

John 8:31 NIV 31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.

John 13:35 NIV 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

John 15:8 NIV 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

John 15:16 NIV 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.

Romans 10:14-15 NIV 14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

And finally…

Hebrews 10:25 NIV 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

If we are to be true followers of Christ we cannot be Christians in name alone. We must daily make the decision to obey Him and His leading in our lives. We are to share the good news with those who desperately need to hear it! We need to encourage our brothers and sisters who may be struggling and we need to continue to move forward in the power of the Holy Spirit. Every single one of us has been called with a purpose and we all need to be doing our part in the body until Jesus returns or He calls us home.

If you have become a Sunday seat warmer only, ask God to forgive you of your spiritual idleness and stir up in you a desire to fulfill the purposes He has called you to do. Don’t waste another day!

Lord, I ask that you would forgive me for my spiritual laziness that has allowed me to put my comfort before Your purposes for my life. Please stir up in me the giftings that You have given me and show me what I can do this day to further Your kingdom. Give me a heart that loves what You love and hates what You hate and empower me to demonstrate that love to those who need it.  In the precious name of Jesus,  Amen.

WE are family

John 1:12 NIV 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.

John 1:12 NIV 12 Yet to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.

As followers of Christ, we inherit the blessings of having a church family. Our church family is not just within the walls of our own church but is worldwide. We are brothers and sisters with other followers of Christ from Canada to Australia and everywhere in between. It is so important that we don’t lose sight of that in our prayer lives. We need to hold up the body of Christ everywhere. For those who are suffering persecution in foreign lands, for those who are being sifted through trials, for those who are enduring hardships of their own making, we are called to intercede for them all because one day we will all stand together before Christ as one family, though from many tribes and tongues!  Revelation 7:9-10 NIV After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice:

“Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”

I have noticed in my own walk and in the walk of others that the enemy loves nothing more than to separate us from our brothers and sisters. He likes to isolate us. When we have  engaged in sin one of the first things we hear inside our heads is condemnation.  If we continue to listen to the accuser instead of simply repenting and moving forward in our walk with Christ, Satan will use that condemnation and shame to isolate us from the ones we need the most. God created us with the need for fellowship. Just as He longs for fellowship with us, He has created a desire for fellowship inside us to have an abiding relationship with Him and with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Though each of us has unique giftings and talents, we are not created to stand alone or to operate alone. We are to operate as a family, each fulfilling his or her function.

When we stumble, fall, or just get discouraged along the way, it is important to reach out to our church family. It is humbling to do so but it brings with it great rewards. We have a safe place to come to for prayer, love and encouragement. All things each of us will need from time to time. When we pull back from our church family, we often find ourselves becoming discouraged, lonely and left to feel rather isolated. Bingo, Satan has succeeded in keeping us from moving forward in our walk of faith!

Several years ago, after a series of tragedies  in my life, I became very discouraged. I wondered where God was when I was suffering? I pulled away from the church and thought I would be better off figuring things out on my own. Let me just say that it just prolonged my sorrow. I wasted precious time wallowing when I could have been enjoying the love and support of my brothers and sisters in Christ.  I am so grateful to God for wooing me back into the arms of a church family. Though, no church is  perfect, it is still the best place to be for spiritual growth, encouragement, love and support. It is also a place where God will train us up in our giftings, if we let Him.

If you find yourself feeling isolated and apart from the body of Christ, ask God to give you direction in finding a church home.  He didn’t create any of us to be islands. We function best and are most fulfilled when we work as a family. We just happen to have a very large family that encompasses every country in the globe and there is certainly a church family out there waiting for you and the giftings God has given you.  Don’t postpone your loneliness and isolation. Ask God for direction in finding the church family He has waiting for you.

Hebrews 10:24,25 NIV 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Give the gift of HOPE

If there is one word to sum up what is lacking in this world of ours my guess is it would be “hope”. For those who have not come into a personal relationship with Christ there is not much to be hopeful for. Politicians reveal corrupt natures on a regular basis, the economy has caused many to lose their homes and savings, evil exists in every city and country, innocent people are being imprisoned for years for their beliefs while pedophiles get off with light sentences.  Is it any wonder that so many struggle with depression and suicide rates have increased?

The World Health Organization states that:

  • Every year, almost one million people die from suicide; this roughly corresponds to one death every 40 seconds.
  • Suicide is among the three leading causes of death among those aged 15-44 years in some countries, and the second leading cause of death in the 10-24 years age group; these figures do not include suicide attempts which can be many times more frequent than suicide (10, 20, or more times according to some studies). http://www.who.int/mental_health/prevention/suicide/suicideprevent/en/index.html

It’s a dark world we live in. Without “hope” many just give up. Proverbs 13:12 explains why, 12 Hope deferred makes the heart sick,  but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life

If this world, as it is, was all we had to look forward to it would be easy to understand the lack of “hope” we see in most people.  But it isn’t!  We have every reason to hope. God has provided a way for a better life in this present world and in the world to come through Jesus His Son! Through salvation, we have direct access to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. We receive His Holy Spirit to guide us and direct us. Our longing has been fulfilled through Christ! We can now  operate out of the love Christ has shed in our hearts and thereby are able to make even this world we live in a much better place while we wait on Heaven!

It is so important that we share this “hope” we have received. The same gift we have been given is available to everyone who will call upon the name of Jesus. Without this hope many people will go on to live sad, unfulfilled lives struggling to take them into an  eternity that will be even worse. When we share Christ with others we give them the gift of hope, knowing that He will take whatever mess their life has become, and mold it into something wonderful, just as He did with each of us that know Him as Savior and Lord.  We are to “overflow with hope” as the word of God tells us in Romans 15:13 NIV 13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Why not let your hope overflow into the life of another today?  Reach out to someone that needs to see the “hope” we have demonstrated by your being the hands and feet of Christ. Let them hear of the “hope” we have through sharing the salvation message of Christ.

As we wait on the blessed hope of Christ’s return, let’s collectively share our present hope with those that need to hear! The book of Titus lays it out so perfectly… Titus 2:11-14 NIV 11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

Lord, today use me to demonstrate the “hope” you offer to others that don’t know you or those that have been sidelined by sin and the cares of this world. Let my actions and words share the truth of who You are and the hope that You offer each and every person that willingly turns to You.

In your beautiful name Jesus,

Amen.

Forgiveness opens the door for change!

 I was  sad to hear of the passing of Nelson Mandela yesterday. Over the years I have admired his decision to forgive and live out that forgiveness in his actions. He was a man that stood out because he didn’t respond to prejudism with hatred and bitterness. He had the wisdom to realize that real change in South Africa, would only come with forgiveness and reconciliation. Hatred would just prolong the fighting and nothing good would ever be accomplished.

The Word of God teaches us this same principle. We are to live a life that demonstrates forgiveness. Our own forgiveness is conditional upon us forgiving others as we read in Luke 6:37 NIV 37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.  Nelson Mandela was able to bring about amazing change in South Africa that eventually spread to other parts of the globe because he implemented this principle.  I can’t help but think about the awesome opportunity for change each and every one of us that follow Christ have. In our families, in our churches, in our neighborhoods and in our world, we can all make a difference when we love like Jesus loves, when we refuse to judge and condemn and when we forgive.

Christ does not want us to spend our time fighting battles of bitterness and unforgiveness. He wants us to use our time to love Him and serve others. My prayer is that we will not waste any more time walking in  unforgiveness but will do as Paul says in Colossians 3:12-14 NIV 12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

If we start each day with this scripture in mind, we too will make an amazing difference in our world.